“What’s keeping me from robbing you blind? ”
That question was racing through my mind the other day while I was sitting in a local coffee shop, minding my own business, when a complete stranger asked me to watch his computer while he went to the restroom. He didn’t know me at all, yet for whatever reason, he opted to trust that I wouldn’t grab his computer and run out the door (which I was sitting right next to). This stunned me at first, but then it dawned on me that I was sitting alone at a table reading my Bible and writing in my journal-he must’ve assumed that I was honest because I was reading the Bible. That’s a logical assumption, right?
Just because you read the Bible doesn’t mean that you adhere to its’ value system anymore than hanging out in a music store makes you Eric Clapton. You can read every page of the Bible and still not live your life by God’s value system. It takes intentionality; it takes discipline and practice; it takes the encouragement and accountability of others; and it takes the desire to trust and obey God. Without those things, you can read the Bible all day long and never put into practice the values taught within it’s pages.
This past Sunday at New Song Church we talked about the fact that most of us live by cultural value systems. The problem with cultural value systems is that they are forever changing-sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but nonetheless, they are always changing. For instance, things that used to be acceptable such as polygamy, slavery, racism, and the unfair treatment of women were bad cultural value systems that thankfully, changed for the better because our culture began to value humanity at a much deeper level. But who’s to say that these value systems won’t evolve again because of some cultural shift in our world? Just look at what’s currently acceptable on the radio and television-that’s a shift that’s taken place for the worse, not the better.
But, the development and the evolution of cultural value systems is nothing new. In fact, it goes all the way back to the beginning of humanity. Think about it: in the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve a value system-“Enjoy life, have sex and make babies, eat and drink whatever you want…but whatever you do, don’t eat from one particular tree-‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’.” That was their value system, to enjoy life and obey God’s one rule. But, the enemy came along and said, “God’s value system is keeping you from really enjoying life like you should! You need more! You deserve more! Go ahead…take a bite of this delicious fruit and then you will have it all!” Adam and Eve were afraid that they were going to miss out on something, so they modified their value system for instant gratification. Sounds a lot like the world we live in, today, huh?
Like Adam and Eve, you and I have free-will and we must make a choice: We can either trust and adhere to God’s unchangeable value system, which most view as “WEiRD”, or we can put our trust in the value systems of our culture, which are constantly shifting. As you decide which value system you will choose, here are some things to consider about God’s values:
1. God’s values are challenging – Striving to be godly is hard. Period. Following Jesus is not easy, if it were, it would be a much more popular thing to do. If someone tells you that walking with God is going to solve all of your problems and make your life easier, then you’d better hide your wallet, because they’re just trying to sucker you out of some money. When you subscribe to a higher value system, that is other than this world, you will face opposition of all sorts.
2. God’s values will cause ridicule from others – Scripture makes it clear that those who operate by the world’s values will make fun of those who operate by God’s values because they don’t understand them-they are foreign; they are not of this world. So, we get laughed at or called “Weirdo” or “Jesus Freak.” When you don’t understand something, the natural tendency is to poke fun at it because you can’t explain it. Hmm…maybe that’s a good reminder for us that we shouldn’t automatically ridicule that which is different from us. But that’s another blog waiting to be written.
3. God’s values will transform your heart to be more like Jesus – When we stop chasing our own desires and start chasing after the will of God our heart changes. However, we must take the first step because when it comes to our walk with God, obedience precedes blessing, and, obedience precedes our understanding. Most of us want to understand first, then try to be obedient. But God tells us to do just the opposite . The world says, “Feel your way into things.” God says, “Trust and obey your way into things.”
4. God’s values will change the hearts of others – 1 Peter 2:11-12 says that our honorable ways, or our “Godly values,” will honor God and cause others to honor Him when He judges the world. Do you ever notice how doing the right thing can be contagious? When you take things up a notch with your values, it causes others to evaluate what they think and believe. and how they act. You and I have a tremendous amount of influence, whether we realize it or not. We should use our influence to be positive and encourage others…not to make them feel guilty.
5. God’s values will pay off in the long run – The temptation for us is to take shortcuts because God’s values are hard. Shortcuts may work in the immediate but they are not helpful in the long-run. When you and I shortcut God’s values, we are saying, “God, I don’t fully trust you. I don’t fully trust you to supply all of my needs, therefore, I’ll just handle it myself.” When we do things God’s way, it may be harder, it may be a higher standard, it may take longer, we may have to wait, but in relying on His timing, His plan, and His resources we place ourselves in a position where we can not only be blessed, but can have life to the fullest.
The older I get, the more see the importance of maintaining Godly values, not just for my own good, but also for the good of others around me, and the generations that come after me. But, it’s hard. It takes courage. It takes fortitude. It takes determination. But more than anything else, it takes the desire to trust God. Do you have a desire to trust God? Do you have faith that if you trust Him, He will take care of your own desires? If not, then maybe that’s your next step: pray for the desire to simply trust.
Think about it.